Under-the-radar 1st-half trends from Phillies hitters

Under-the-radar 1st-half trends from Phillies hitters

Taking a look at some under-the-radar developments for key Phillies position players with the first half in the books.

C Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp

Alfaro has swung at a higher percentage of pitches this season than any player in the majors — 61.5 percent. The only other player who's swung at more than 59 percent of the pitches he's seen is Javier Baez.

Defensively, it's been an up-and-down season for the Phillies' catchers. They've combined to allow 12 passed balls, most in the National League. And the Phils have allowed 58 stolen bases, second most in the NL.

1B Carlos Santana

Santana's plate selection has been as advertised, with him entering the All-Star break with more walks than every player in the majors except Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

But Santana's also been helped out a bit by umpires. No player in the National League has had more pitches in the strike zone called balls than Santana (55). Some of it, obviously, has to do with his reputation. His exaggerated movements on inside pitches help, too.

2B Cesar Hernandez

Hernandez has a .380 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot this season, tops in the National League and second in baseball behind only Mookie Betts (.452).

Hernandez hasn't been driving the ball a whole lot lately — his three-run triple Sunday was his only extra-base hit in July — but you know the singles and walks will always be there for him. Hernandez has spent just one day all season with an OBP lower than .367.

3B Maikel Franco

Do you realize that we're 95 games into the season and Franco has a higher OPS than Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, George Springer, Mike Moustakas, Santana, Trea Turner, Brian Dozier, Anthony Rizzo and Adam Jones?

SS Scott Kingery

There's a baseball cliche that when a player is in a slump, he's down 0-1 or 0-2 every time he comes to the plate.

If it seems like Kingery has spent much of the first half in a hole, it's because he has. He's gotten a first-pitch strike 66.5 percent of the time, the fifth-highest rate in the NL. 

A major reason for that is Kingery's rate of swings at pitches outside the strike zone — 39.7 percent, also fifth highest in the NL.

LF Rhys Hoskins

You hear a lot about how much a plate appearance changes when you start 1-0 as opposed to 0-1. For Hoskins this season, it's made a world of difference.

When Hoskins starts 1-0, he has a .457 on-base percentage. When he starts 0-1, he has a .292 OBP. That OBP gap after 1-0 vs. 0-1 counts is 48 points higher than the league average gap.

So next time you see Hoskins begin an AB 1-0, flip a coin. Nearly half the time, he's getting on base.

CF Odubel Herrera

If you've watched Herrera over the years, you've likely noticed that he takes forever in between pitches, even in an age when MLB wants to speed up the game by eliminating dead time.

Well, Herrera does indeed have the slowest pace of any MLB hitter, taking 29.3 seconds on average in between pitches.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Hernandez, who rarely steps out of the box. Hernandez takes 21.0 seconds in between pitches, third fastest in the majors.

RF Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr

The interesting trend with these two is how much better Williams, a left-handed hitter, has been against left-handed pitching.

Williams has hit .265 with a .321 OBP against lefties and .243 with a .324 OBP vs. righties. For his career, he's hit .271 against each side.

Altherr, contrarily, has hit just .169 against lefties. In a larger sample, it stands to reason that Williams' numbers against same-handed pitching would come down. But to this point, the platoon aspect of the right-field tandem hasn't worked out as expected.

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Phillies meet with Scott Boras, talk Zach Britton and Bryce Harper

Phillies meet with Scott Boras, talk Zach Britton and Bryce Harper

LAS VEGAS — Phillies officials met with super agent Scott Boras at the winter meetings Tuesday, according to a baseball source. 

The two sides discussed a number of matters, including Boras' two big free agents, Bryce Harper and Zach Britton.

The Phillies have had strong, longstanding interest in Britton, a left-handed reliever. They tried to acquire him from Baltimore in a package with Manny Machado in July but were unable to consummate the deal. Months later, Britton remains high on the Phillies' wish list. 

The Phillies have interest in Harper, widely considered the prize of this winter's free-agent market. On Tuesday, the team signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen. While that doesn't rule them out of adding another outfielder like Harper, it could be a signal that the team is more focused on Machado, who they would hope to sign as a third baseman.

The Phillies continue to be in contact with Machado's agents and Machado will visit Citizens Bank Park and meet with Phillies officials in the coming weeks.

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Source: Phillies 'don’t have enough' to pull off trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto

Source: Phillies 'don’t have enough' to pull off trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto

LAS VEGAS — Don't hold your breath on the Phillies landing All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Sure, the Phillies like the Miami Marlins' star. Who doesn't? He will play at 28 next season and is a game-changer on both sides of the ball. He's also two years away from free agency.

And, yes, sources confirm that the Phils have had trade discussions with the Marlins involving Realmuto.

But a person with direct knowledge of those discussions said a deal was unlikely.

"They don't have enough," the person said, referring to the quality of major league-ready prospects that the Phillies could offer compared to other clubs that are interested in Realmuto.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak likes his current catching tandem of Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but he did not shoot down the possibility of an upgrade.

"As an organization, we're high on both Alfaro and Knapp for different reasons, different skill sets," Klentak said at the winter meetings Tuesday. "But if there's an opportunity for us to get better, we'll consider that."

Klentak was asked about reports involving Realmuto in particular.

"If you see rumors connecting us to good players either through free agency or trades, they're probably true," Klentak said. "That doesn't mean we're going to do them but we're in the business of trying to get better. If we can add really good players then we're going to try and do it. I'm not going to refute that we have interest in the top trade targets but I don't know if it will happen."

It is highly likely that the Phillies will add catching depth in the coming weeks. That could come with the signing of a backup-type to a minor-league deal. Otherwise, the 25-year-old Alfaro is going to get the bulk of the reps behind the plate.

"I think what Jorge showed last year was incredible growth for a first-year catcher both on the offensive side and the defensive side," Klentak said. "He cut his strikeout rate every month of the year. His receiving and his framing went from being not great to very good in one year. Obviously, he became more familiar with our pitching staff and how they prepare. So we absolutely think Jorge can and will be our frontline guy."

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